Earlier this month, Dogwood Alliance was scheduled to meet with executives at KFC to discuss the company’s paper packaging and how they could end the destruction of endangered forests in the South by adopting a sustainable packaging policy. This meeting was scheduled following a public statement made by CEO David Novak at the company’s Shareholder meeting in May saying that his sustainability team should meet with representatives of our organization. At the eleventh hour, we received an email from Chief Sustainability Officer Roger McClendon cancelling the meeting.
In our eyes, this represent a total lack of integrity, as we had a good faith agreement to meet. This is one in a long string of cancellations made by the company in our multi-year engagement with them. Below, in its entirety, is our letter in response to Roger McClendon, the Board of Directors, and leadership at YUM and KFC.
It is our hope that one day the company will see the error in their ways and make a good faith effort to protect the forests and communities in the region they call home. In the mean time, we plan to raise the stakes and not only advocate for the forests of the South, but also support Greenpeace International’s brand new campaign targeting KFC for destroying the last wild forests in Indonesia to make packaging for its Chinese market.
Here is the letter:
Roger McClendon, Chief Sustainability Officer
1900 Colonel Sanders Lane
Louisville, KY 40213
RE: Cancelled Yum! Brands – Dogwood Alliance Conference Call
Dear Roger McClendon,
We received your letter on July 10, 2012 cancelling our scheduled phone conservation and were left feeling extremely disappointed. Your message follows a long string of promised meetings that have been cancelled dating back to our original contact with YUM and Karen Sherman well before the launch of a public campaign. Cancelling the conference call at the last minute was disrespectful and unprofessional, especially in light of the fact that in May at YUM’s Annual General Meeting, your CEO publicly advocated for our team to meet with you, Jonathan Blum and other relevant executives.
The cancelled meeting represented a key missed opportunity for our organization and your company to move beyond public confrontation and begin an honest dialogue that would not only be good for our forests and communities, but also for your company’s image and brand. We had hoped to be in a position by now to give you support for your efforts, but any emerging confidence we had after the AGM that YUM is taking these issues seriously has eroded.
You stated in your letter that after a meeting with your suppliers “we are confident in our suppliers and our strategies around sustainable sourcing.” However, your strategies are not endorsed by key stakeholders in regions where you source paper. By failing to broaden the depth of your understanding about the threats to forests beyond the perspective of your paper suppliers you are refusing to be an active participant in developing solutions. The unfortunate end result is that YUM continues to be a part of the problem. Meanwhile, we have been in active dialogue with your suppliers and will continue to engage with these companies to advance solutions to ensure the protection of our forests.
While we appreciate some of the efforts that you have made related to recycling, these efforts are simply are not enough to ensure the protection of important forests in the Southern US and around the world. YUM’s continued reliance on misleading forest certification systems such as SFI is simply insufficient to ensure that its paper is not contributing to the destruction of important forests. Let me be clear that we are always willing to engage in a constructive conversation to help YUM or any company for that matter find solutions. But, your actions give us little hope that YUM is truly willing to assume responsibility for its role in forest destruction.
The refusal to engage those who have legitimate concerns will not make the issues go away or somehow absolve YUM of its responsibility to take an active role in ensuring the future health of forests. Until Yum deals with these issues by working with environmental stakeholders to adopt a meaningful global fiber sourcing policy, public criticism is only going to escalate as evidenced by Greenpeace International’s recent launch of a campaign targeting your company for its role in global forest destruction.
YUM Board of Directors
Rolf Skar, Greenpeace